Colorado Merger Displays Unity in Christ, Positions Church for Greater Impact
By Rachel Eldridge
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” —Ephesians 3:20–21 NIV
The pastors of two separate Church of God congregations in Denver, Colorado, were led independently by God to meditate on this passage in 2019. By following the Holy Spirit’s prompting at each step, senior pastors Lee Brown and Ron Olsen found themselves and their congregations joining together in the midst of a God-sized dream. So far, it has involved selling two church buildings, merging a board of elders, purchasing a former Cross-Fit gym to reimagine as a church, opening a coffee shop, partnering with believers in Sri Lanka, hosting ice cream socials, and so much more. And, of course, all of this has been while navigating COVID-19.
We featured Pastor Ron’s congregation previously, known at that time as Arvada Church of God. The small church was active in serving God’s kingdom, and throughout the ups and downs of bi-vocational ministry, Ron kept in touch with a network of other local pastors, including Lee. Lunchtime discussions of church mergers, along with much prayer and discernment, eventually led to the vision that is now a reality. Sloan’s Lake Church—a historic Denver congregation planted by D. S. Warner in the late 1800s—would merge with Arvada Church of God to become one body known as Altitude Church.
They’ve encountered costly setbacks, a pandemic, and hard times along the way, but Altitude Church launched publicly in its new facility in January 2022. Pastor Lee serves as lead pastor, and Pastor Ron serves as pastor of discipleship, along with two other pastors on staff.
“Our vision is to be an epicenter of hope to our community that also honors and maintains a history all the way back to 1887, when Colorado as a state was just eleven years old,” Pastor Lee said.
Altitude Church has been welcoming new guests for worship each week since launching. Yet their mission isn’t limited to Sundays. Through the sale of the two original church buildings, they’ve been able to purchase their new facility in a high-traffic location and start a community coffee shop down the road. Altitude’s merged board of elders also prioritized a tithe on the building sales and their launch budget, which enabled giving to numerous local and international ministries. Their reach includes everything from throwing pizza parties for Denver school kids, to purchasing land for the Church of God congregation in Sri Lanka.
At the heart of it all, no matter the name or location of the church building, Jesus is truly the subject.
“Our focus is to have a transformational impact on 1 percent of our Denver metro area, one person at a time, by equipping people to become more like Jesus,” Pastor Lee explained. “[We’re seeing] the ministry flow into our community, which is considered to be in the top ten least-churched cities in America.”
Rachel Eldridge is a freelance writer who attends First Church of God in New Albany, Indiana.
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.